At a moment of historic volatility in American politics, insurgent candidates Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, and Paula Jean Swearengin decided to fight back and embarked on a journey that would change their lives and their country forever. Knock Down the House (2019) follows the grassroots campaigns of these four ambitious women as they challenge powerful incumbents in the 2018 congressional race. Despite their lack of political experience and corporate donations, these women work to redefine community values and represent populations that have been ignored by passive leadership. By communicating their personal motivations, collective struggles, and nuanced triumphs, Knock Down the House captures each candidate’s impact on American politics.
Documentary subject Cori Bush and producer Sarah Olson joined moderator Emily Zinn for a post-screening discussion.
Documentary subject Cori Bush
Documentary subject Cori Bush is a candidate for Missouri’s First Congressional District. She was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri where she also attended Harris-Stowe State University and Lutheran School of Nursing. Her professional experience includes time as a pastor and a registered nurse. Bush is the co-director of The Truth Telling Project and has traveled internationally to present on nonviolent conflict. She has received numerous awards, including a 2015 Woman of Courage award from the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation and the 2016 Delux Magazine “Power 100” award.
Producer Sarah Olson
Sarah Olson is an award-winning producer of documentaries including Knock Down the House, which took home both the Audience Award (Documentary) and Festival Favorite Award at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Following its festival success, Netflix picked up the film for distribution on its platform in over a hundred countries. Olson previously developed and produced the highly-acclaimed documentary Fed Up, which premiered at Sundance in 2014 and was named as a New York Times “Critics Pick” and “a movie that matters” by Rolling Stone. In addition to her feature-length work, Sarah has developed and produced short films and viral campaigns for Environmental Working Group and Food and Water Watch.
Moderator Emily Zinn
Emily Zinn is the Associate Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center. She earned her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in English Literature, with an emphasis in Gender and Sexuality Studies. Her research interests include contemporary British and American literature, the role of food in literature, and fairy tales. She currently serves as a lecturer in UCSB’s English department, and she previously taught at Yale University and the Curtis Institute of Music.
This event is sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center and Netflix.
The Carsey-Wolf Center is committed to screening documentaries from across the world that engage with contemporary and historical issues, especially regarding social justice and environmental concerns. Documentaries allow filmmakers to address pressing issues and frame the critical debates of our time.